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By Anne Harris, March 18, 2011, Screens


Lone Star States
D: Aaron Burns; with Austin Marshall, Devyn Ray, Tiger Sheu

You will laugh at the same joke three times. It is the sight of a half-Japanese teenager with multiple sclerosis trying to walk. Catching yourself mid-guffaw and realizing that it's okay is the aim of first-time writer/director Burns, who stitches a serious social message into screwball comedy with few seams showing. With Ayn Rand's quote "the greatest minority is the individual" as our compass, we join the school day of Stefan Daily (Marshall), a half-black, half-Latino high school student, and his fellow outcasts, played to the hilt by Sheu as the aforementioned half-Japanese student, Matt Miyamoto; Ray as Stefan's wacky but loving best friend; and Michelle Rodriguez, in a sensitive portrayal, as Charlotte Foster Jane, who calls Matt a "crip" at every turn. Struggling to find his own voice is made worse for Stefan by circumstances beyond any kid's control, which get worse as the film gets funnier. Burns doesn't miss a chance to trot out banal goofs, such as manic waiters with too many buttons, but he also takes race relations back to how they should be regarded, as human relations.

Saturday, March 19, 7pm, Vimeo Theater

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